^^Two phrases I never imagined myself saying^^
We picked up our two new hives last week and took them out to the ranch with the other hive we have out there. (I REALLY need to come up with names for these hives, it's getting confusing) We left them alone for a couple of days to settle in and then went out to check on them. We opened the hive and realized they were doing quite poorly. Brood patterns were really bad and they were just overall weak hives with little honey stored. We checked the original hive and went home. We ordered new queens for all three ranch hives because two of those queens were two and a half years old and none of the three were doing well.
The queens arrived on the 13th and we happily went out to install our new girls. The purchased hives were pretty easy to deal with. We found the queens, picked them out of the hive and I stepped on them. The queens were all pipping at each other and that was really cool. I had heard that on youtube, but never in person. Amazing.
We got to the original hive and realized something was different. We could NOT find the queen. We searched and searched and still never saw her. We saw some queen cells though and that was worrisome. I did not dare leave the new queen in case the hive went on the war path and killed her. I went back home and did some research. The queen cells we saw were emergency cells. Uh oh. That means we lost our queen at some point. I looked up the age of the larvae we had seen in the cells and determined that the hive had been queenless for about a week. Pretty much since the last time we were there. Uh oh. We must have either squished her by accident, or lost her somehow when we left the new hives. Good thing we already had a queen to install. I went out the next day and put her in her new home. The bees were surprisingly mellow. This had always been a fairly aggressive hive but I didn't even light my smoker.
Fast forward three days and we go out to check the queens and turn them loose into the hive. We also got our new beesuits and were quite excited to try them out. I put mine on and then taped the one spot where a bee could get through, right on the neck. Hubby told me I was paranoid and a pansy. I told him I didn't care, I would rather not get stung, thank you very much. We started with the queenless hive and HOLY PSYCHO BEES, BATMAN!!! These bees went into attack mode right from the moment we walked up to the hive. They would not give you a friendly headbutt warning, they went straight for the jugular. Luckily the neck on MY suit was taped up. But my non paranoid, non pansy husband ended up with half a dozen bees inside his suit. One went up his nose while another sunk her stinger right into his adams apple.
He sucked it up long enough to release the queen and we watched her disappear down into the hive like she was supposed to. We battled the workers long enough to make sure they didn't attack the attendant bees that came with the queen. There was a lot of butt wiggling and threats, but no one seemed overly pissed at them, just at us. We put the inner and outer covers back on the hive and retreated. They chased us quite a ways down the road and we finally got away from the determined little critters. We smoked our suits to mask the sting pheromones and braved the kamikaze insects one more time to fasten the straps around the hive. Whew, that was pretty intense.
Now on to the new hives. These girls wanted new queens! They had almost eaten all of the candy in the queen cage and eagerly accepted the queens into the colony. They escorted her right down into the hive and never really even flew out of the hives. They were gentle enough that we could have removed our gloves and touched them. What a relief after dealing with those other attack bees!
We are going to wait a week and then go back out and check on the hives to make sure the queens are ok and laying eggs. If that crazy hive has killed their queen, they are toast. I am tired of dealing with them and their attitudes. I will split them up and distribute the frames between the hives I bought to boost them and will start over with a new package of bees next year.